March 21, 2013

… ལ་དཀར་བ། … ལ་གནག་པ།

Here is yet another trivial trace of traversing Tibetan texts: a reflection on the use of … la dkar ba and … la gnag pa. A usual association with the Tibetan word dkar would be the colour “white” as in the case of me tog dkar po ’dab ma stong ldan “a white flower with a thousand petals.” But to be noted is that it is only in this form (i.e. dkar po) that the word is a proper adjective. The form dkar ba, however, is not an adjective but a verb, which maybe described as an “adjectival verb.” The expression “verbal adjective” seems to mean something else. One may also consider calling it “stative verb” (Zustandsverb). Even as verb, dkar ba has two distinct senses, namely, the sense of “to be white” (as opposed to “to be black”) and the sense of “to be fond of something or someone” (e.g. chos la dkar ba “to be predisposed to (or fond of) Dharma” (Bod rgyas.v. dkar ba) as opposed to chos la gnag pa “to be indisposed to Dharma or to loath Dharma”). Note that these verbs must be preceded by the accusative la don particle. One wonders if (etymologically) … la dkar ba and … la gnag pa would mean something like “to whiten (something)” or “to have a whitened (or whitening) attitude towards (something)” and “to blacken (something)” or “to have a blackened (or blackening) attitude towards (something).” Speculation pure! 

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